*Disclaimer: Be gentle this is my first music review.
Mononymous-ly named entertainer, Jidenna, released his highly anticipated debut album, The Chief, on February 17th, 2017. Known for his R&B and rap combination style of music he likes to refer to as swank, the popularly acclaimed artist under Janelle Monae’s Wondaland record label is ready to prove that he not only has originality but the chops to sustain and have longevity in the music industry. Staying true to the persona displayed in “Classic Man,” Jidenna flows through each track losing none of the swagger and cockiness that made fans love him. The Chief contains fourteen tracks displaying Jidenna’s smartly executed style of rapping and memorable singing ability that will keep you captivated from beginning to end.
The album was named The Chief to pay homage to Jidenna’s grandfather (as well as his deceased father), who was a Nigerian chief and tribesman. Because of this lineage, Jidenna eludes to himself as a chief throughout the album and takes the ideology and characteristics that accompany that position and geographically place them on Western civilizations city streets. The Chief is greatly influenced by the culture and sounds of Nigeria, where Jidenna resided until he was six. The Nigerian figure of a chief is something that resonates with him on a spiritual level and is referenced in almost every song. Other topics aside from the chief mentality covered in this album are those of political consciousness, rags to riches stories, melodic ballads, and commercial feel goods that will surely get heavy rotation on the radio.
Keeping true to his overconfident and sometimes presumptuous flow, Jidenna rhymes about success and the constant grind to be excellent in songs like 2 points and Helicopters/Beware. Jidenna comes hard spitting lyrics ‘I don’t spend no major time with minor people/if it’s for the greater good then I might deceive ya/Living like a Rolling stone but I’m quite a Beatle/Living by your own law can be quite illegal. Still, very playful Jidenna is no games when it comes to these two tracks. Once again referring to the chief that lives within, Jidenna explains the constant strive and struggle that he endured for his current success. He plays on this arrogance in Some Type of Way and Bully of the Earth, where in both instances he doubts his strength but realizes his power to overcome his adversaries.
We cannot continue discussing this album without mentioning Jidenna’s unique style of rapping that is incomparable to today’s trending artists. What makes Jidenna so different is his capability to end his punch line or rhyming scheme right before the beat ends or right after it begins. This effect “silences” the background so you can really hear his last words and rhyming scheme, which gives his lyrics a longer lasting effect and easier capability to remember and sing along.
Jidenna gives a background of his life’s trials on his journey to manhood in songs A Bulls Tale, Chief Don’t Run, and Long Live the Chief. Throughout these songs he relays a vivid depiction of rags to riches storyline, narrating about a troubled childhood and how that built him for his current success. Lyrics that further describe this are, “Me and mom in the shack in the woods, bro/ I was sleepin’ on the floor with the oven door open/While I dreamt about the places I would go” and “Cockroaches and the rat shit/Hand me downs with the patches/ Mama put a little money in the mattress/ Taught me to make a silver spoon out of plastic.” However, these songs do not end on the note of disparity, as Jidenna raps along he once again eludes to “the chief” in him, and how that understanding of who he is and his background propelled and continues to catapult him to greatness.
In the midst of this album, Jidenna takes the time to serenade his lady listeners with ballads Bambi and Adaora and song Little Bit More and Safari featuring Wondaland family Nana Kwabena, St. Beauty and Janelle Monae. These songs have a clear Nigerian influence with a Western twist and infectious lyrics that will have you unknowingly humming it throughout the day. Of course, he provides dance tunes Trampoline and The Let Out that could potentially have the same commercial success as Classic Man. Jidenna finishes his album on a political consciousness note that gives a soundtrack to the speech Matthew McConaughey made on A Time To Kill, explaining racism as if it were happening to white people. White N**** turns the Black Lives Matter narrative into a role reversal perspective.
All in all, this album was conceptually thought of from beginning to end and really showcases all of Jidenna’s skills. This is definitely not a bust after the hype and anticipation of Classic Man and the creativity and thought that went into making this album really makes me appreciate the wait. Download Jidenna’s album The Chief on Itunes now!